If You Tame Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

Single department store manager Audrey has just turned 55 and is wondering where the life she thought she would have went. She would like a relationship with a man but does she actually need one, like a fish needs a bicycle? She decides it is time to make more of an effort and goes to a pet shop seeking an animal to share her time with. Deciding that a cat would be just too stereotypical, she comes home with an iguana and starts to focus her care and attention on it.

Audrey’s neighbour Frank is a 60-something widower who has dealt with the loss of his wife by raising parakeets and treating them as family. He has seen Audrey around and quite fancies her. When he notices her iguana, he starts to think that might be a way to strike up a friendship, and maybe more.

The plot of this novel promises to be a fairly typical rom-com, but there are elements that lift it above that. The age of the main protagonists allows Giorgio to explore themes of loneliness and loss after separation from and the death of loved ones. She also, through Audrey’s Gloria Steinem obsession, explores some issues relating to feminism and what it means both to younger women and to the former radicals who have now reached middle age. I quite liked this book; the only jarring note for me was Frank’s regular chats with the ghost of his dead wife, which we are apparently mean to take at face value. That was just a bit too Hollywood-esque for my tastes.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I read this synopsis, I knew I had to request this title. I was very excited when it hit my shelf and I read it immediately. In fact, I read it twice. I felt so connected with Audrey. I understand her relationship with her iguana so well as I have a special pet companion in my life as well. Much like Audrey, I am very attached to my pet Sparky, a 10 year old African grey parrot that I would give up anything else in my life for. When I got to the part about Frank and his six parakeets, I smiled so big. Where is my Frank?!

The characters in this book are so quirky and loveable. Watching the relationship grow between Audrey and Frank was delightful. I loved the deep theme of feminism weaved into this story. I really loved this so much. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for allowing me to review this title. I really enjoyed it.
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The cover drew me in, and Newt kept me there.   If you tame me is the story of Audrey, who decides to give herself a present on her 55th birthday.  Since she can't seem to get a husband, she decides to get a pet and she doesn't want "nice"...Audrey wants to go radical.  So, Audrey comes home with a one year old Green Iguana who quickly becomes her partner in life.  Meanwhile, Frank lives next door and crushes on Audrey.  Frank is a widower sharing his life with his family of six parakeets.  When Audrey  comes home with a Green Iguana Frank's crush on her only grows.  Then into the picture comes Frank's first two wives.  He runs into Theresa at the store and Susan's ghost pops up to help Frank get up the gumption to ask Audrey out.

All of the characters were likable (lovable) and watching Frank and Audrey bond over an Iguana constipation emergency was a pleasure.  The author describes Newt's expressions, emotions and mannerism beautifully and you know him at much more than "just" a lizard.  

I grew a little tired of all the talk and debate on feminism and what feminism means or doesn't mean and was always happy to get off of that subject and back to the main characters, especially Newt!
#Netgalley #IfYouTameMe #BlackRoseWriting
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If You Tame Me is the fifth novel by American author, Kathie Giorgio. On the morning of her birthday, Audrey: "…stood in her living room and looked around at all she collected by her fifty-fifth year. All she earned. But all she noticed was what was missing. There was no husband. There were no children. There was no chance. Statistically. Realistically. Ping!” She had a good job, her own place, and she felt complete but “She didn’t feel invincible. She felt invisible.”

Quite on impulse, she stops at the pet store, not for a kitten, definitely not a kitten, that would make her an old woman with a cat. A puppy? Just too darn overeager. A cockatoo would be nice, but she’s not after nice. Then something on the reptile wall catches her attention. Perhaps no one is more shocked than Audrey herself when she brings home a green iguana, but: “Old women, she told herself, did not adopt iguanas. She was fifty-five, just today. She adopted an iguana, just today. She was not old. At least, not today.”

Next door, sixty-three-year-old Frank (twice-married, once divorced, now a widower, with six parakeets), has noticed Audrey. He’d like to get to know her, but he’s hesitant. After three years, Frank is still grieving Susan and can’t get rid of his father’s irritating refrain, “three strikes, yer out!” And now he runs into his first wife (Strike One) in the supermarket, and his second wife (Strike Two) keeps appearing, offering relationship advice. 

There’s the hook: Newt, the green iguana, draws the reader into this tale of a single woman with a bit of mid-life angst, and a lonely widower. It the ending predictable? Maybe a little (they’re gonna pair up, right?). But it’s the journey there that makes this novel such a worthwhile read. As Frank and Audrey each consider their situation and work out how they might change it, their thoughts and feelings will resonate with many readers, regardless of relationship status. 

Audrey’s discussions with her work colleagues and her college friend cover many aspects of life under the broad umbrella of feminism, including That Book and That Movie (Fifty Shades) and That Man In The White House. They have her looking up icons (Jane Russell, Anita Bryant) and talking to Gloria Steinem’s back-cover picture. And of course, to Newt, who listens well. She wonders if that fish might ever need that bicycle…

They draw some conclusions: “That feminism is about the ability to choose what’s right at each time of our lives.”; “A feminist is a woman-supporter. It’s not about hate at all. And I don’t think a feminist is identified by his or her gender. Just by the support and beliefs.”; “Sometimes I feel like we’re all the same gender, but we don’t speak the same language.” And about taking action: “If we choose to be silent, then we’re choosing to not be heard. We can’t control if he listens, but we can control if we speak.”

Frank, too, thinks a lot about getting a relationship right, with input from wives if not parakeets. He’s very earnest, even if sometimes his thinking is a little teenaged. Giorgio has a way with words: “He would just have to wait until she climbed back down the ladder of anger and returned it to the closet.” Her characters are much more than one-dimensional; they don’t stagnate, and along the way, they give the reader quite a lot of wisdom on a myriad of topics. And more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.

There are a lot of f-words in this story: yes, a few of that one, but also feminist, future, friend, family, fair, found, fate and feminazi; and then there are the n-words, nice, neighbour and Newt; and ultimately some w-words: wild, wonderful. About more than just mature-age relationships, this is a delightfully funny and thought-provoking read. 
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Black Rose Writing
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If You Tame Me
Kathie Giorgio
Black Rose Writing, Oct 3, 2019
268 pages
Women’s Lit, Life Passages, Adult Fiction
Provided by NetGalley
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Since the first time I saw this cover, I was fascinated with this book, but I had no idea what it was about. Finally, I read the synopsis because I just couldn’t stand not knowing. I requested the book and was approved for it. I sat down and started reading it. I set it aside for a day or so and thought about it almost constantly. Then I picked it back up and finished it. Trust me, the iguana on the cover is not the one who needs taming. Though he does bite.

His name is Newton or Newt for short. He’s called that because Fig Newton cookies are Audrey’s favorite and she didn’t want a cat, too cliche.

At 55 and single all her life, Audrey feels she needs to have a partner of some kind. She gets Newt from the local pet store and they bond quite well. She has bookshelves full of human relationship books and she’s read them all and that’s what she bases her relationship with Newt on. She treats him just as she would a human partner. Giving him his own space. Spending time with him. Talking with him about his day and hers. She has an electric blanket on her bed and he has an electric hammock to sleep in. He no longer stays in the glass tank she brought him home in. He has a large tree to climb in her front bay window, it’s a sunny spot and he can see her go off to work and come home. She’s created bricked corners in each room for him. She’s very careful with his diet.

But even this relationship with Newt doesn’t seem to be filling the need Audrey seems to be feeling. A friend she makes at work at the mall convinces her to join an online dating service. But there’s the very nice guy who owns the pet store, Dave. And then there’s her next-door neighbor with the six parakeets who cleared her driveway the last time it snowed. That would be Frank.

Frank has his own relationship problems going on. He was married to wife #1 and they didn’t want children, so they were fine. Then wife #1 decided she wanted children and divorced him. He got married to wife #2. Wife #2 died of cancer and Frank moved to a new house with no memories and got six parakeets. Lately, he’s been running into wife #1, who’s a widow now and lonely. And wife #2 is a ghost and keeps visiting him. She’s trying to keep wife #1 away, but help Frank find a new woman.

While all this is going on, Audrey reconnects with her best friend from college and they run up and down memory lane and rebond to create an all-new friendship that suits their new maturity. And Audrey has made several young friends who work at the mall as she does. At 55, suddenly her world has expanded just with her opening her mind and her world to Newt. This story is about passages and opening one’s mind and world to ideas and people you may not have considered before. Where one change leads to another and another. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially to older readers who may be looking for a way to open their worlds a bit to some change. This is inspirational and fun.
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How do you describe a novel that on the one hand gives you the giggles (e.g. the first time Newt climbs on Audrey’s shoulder is silly and glorious and refreshingly unexpected) and on the other is undeniably soulful? 

For MC Audrey, perhaps that’s just how love is. Love for her fifty-five-year-old self. Love for a scaled creature that leaves her awash in joy. And old-fashioned love… the kind that creeps in, when and where she least expects it.

If You Tame Me is a languid read, more prose-driven than plot, but this touching exploration of mid-life, gender politics, and falling for the sixty-three-year-old boy next door is beautifully narrated and quietly charming. 

While the narrative won’t likely appeal to readers with a preference for page-turners or popular romance, those drawn to women’s and literary fiction will be won over by Giorgio’s elegant prose and heartwarming wisdom.   

NOTE: I requested and read this title just days before it was scheduled to archive, so I haven't had much time to write my review and thus will be Bookstagramming & tweeting this one, possibly with a few edits/additions. Thanks for the opportunity to review Giorgio's lovely work!
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If You Tame Me is a delightful novel with likable quirky characters and laugh out loud moments.  Yet It addresses serious issues too which makes this book so much more than typical chick lit.  I related to this book as a “woman of a certain age” and an animal lover but I think it will appeal to a wider audience as well.
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A very good story.  Audrey is 55yrs old and realizes that life is passing her by and she is not happy with how life is at the moment so she decides to do her own thing and make the best of what she has and get a cat!! Instead she gets an Iguana .But fate is a funny thing and has other plans for her and things start to happen.  If you are in this generation you can really relate to this character!  she is fun and determined . Throw in Frank the neighbor and his pets, ex wife and the ghost of his other wife and you are in for a fun ride.  great storytelling pulls you along for the ride.
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Would an iguana tickle your fancy? Float your boat? Bake your cake?

Don't let the title fool you! It's not that kind of book (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Audrey realises on the morning of her 55th birthday that "this is it". With no man, family or kids, she decides to share her life with a pet instead. The original plan was to get a cat called Hope. But in the pet shop, the steady eyed gaze of an iguana captures her attention. And so Newton (Newt to his friends) joins Audrey's world.

"She didn't know this morning that an iguana was missing from her life."

Frank is her neighbour. Recently widowed and new to the area, he has a bit of a crush on Audrey.

"He wondered if she noticed him."

Throw into the mix a feisty new friend made over a bra fitting at "Victoria's Secret", Bob the pet shop owner, the world of online dating, the relevance today of Gloria Steinem, a 'Fifty Shades' film festival, the reappearance of an ex-wife (who wants to reconnect), the ghost of another (who helps Frank with dating advice) and you have a delightfully, quirky story.

And don't forget Newt. He's always happy to see you 🦎

The importance of animal friends in our lives is illustrated beautifully. Whether they have whiskers, feathers or spiny backs.

" Bob smiled. 'Audrey, he's an iguana.'
'But...he's mine. He's so much more than that.' "

This is a soft, gentle story that tells you that it's never too late. The unexpected can happen. You just don't know when happiness will take you by surprise.

Next time you pass a pet shop, maybe you should ask "How much is that iguana in the window?" 💕

A solid 3.5 ✩✩✩ I really wanted to find out what happened between Audrey & Frank. They're just such darn nice people!

"It was on to something new. Everything was new. Frank was beyond delighted."

I also love that the chapters had titles. There's just something about a book that does that..

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Black Rose Writing & of course to Kathie Giorgio for the opportunity to read this advance copy in return for an honest review.

In all seriousness, while a lighthearted book, it also raises deeper issues about politics & gender equality. What feminism means to different generations.

"Sometimes I feel like we're all the same gender, but we don't speak the same language."

It also talks about ageing. And loneliness. And wanting to have meaningful company. And admitting to wanting it. And being brave enough to take another chance at meeting that special someone. And I don't just mean an iguana.
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This isn't just a book about a lady buying an iguana; it is about loneliness, grief, aging, feminism, politics and love. Above all it is about doing something about your situation. Don't feel powerless whether it be at work, in a relationship or with whichever rather disappointing government you happen to live under - go and do something. big or small, go and live your life. 

Yes, I loved this book. It is a joyous, life affirming read.
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I bizarre and delightful little love story about a middle-aged woman and her iguana.  When Audrey turns 55, she is lonely, but does not want to turn into the stereotypical cat lady, so she adopts an iguana.  Who knew one could have such a meaningful relationship with an iguana.  Audrey names her iguana Newt (for fig newtons, not Sir Isaac) and treats him according to the way any good self-help book says you should treat a partner.  In the meantime, Audrey's neighbor, Frank, is mourning the death of his wife, Susan and trying to cure his loneliness with his five parakeets.  When Susan's ghost shows  and urges Frank to pursue Audrey, he begins to wonder if love can happen between two people, an iguana and five parakeets.  What follows is a simply charming story about the resurgence of energy and new adventures in the second half of life.  And a lot of information about iguanas.
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I want to be this character when I am older!! She just doesn’t give a fuck and I love it. A true find who you are book.
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Literary, realistic, and featuring a well-rounded character — I would gladly recommend If You Tame Me for readers of fiction that reflects life.
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Overall Rating = 4.38
Storyline & Concept = 5
Writing & Delivery = 4.5
Cover Marketability = 4.5
Editorial = 3.5

Audrey knows she doesn’t want to be the old lady with cats. But when she buys herself an iguana for her fifty-fifth birthday, she doesn’t expect that this simple act is the beginning of a voyage of self-rediscovery. Neither does she imagine that her next-door neighbor, a recent widower struggling with the demons of his past, will somehow figure in that journey. Along the way, the moments of angst are well-balanced with moments of humor and fun.
With today’s political environment as a backdrop, Giorgio shows us how youthful passions flame and subside, to be replaced by mature insight; how each individual’s life experience shapes how they deal with the world; and how Love and caring are a partnership and not a competition. Readers of up-market Women’s Fiction will likely also enjoy this novel.
Sublime Line: “Giorgio’s love of language shines in this poignant and thoughtful examination of the nature of relationships, the universal need for companionship, and the meaning of feminism in today’s world.”
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